Welcome back to Thoughtful Thursday and the Symphony of God Woman’s Bible Study Lesson Series. You may have picked up on this, but I play in an orchestra. Actually, I have played violin in the Columbia Orchestra for many years. Every year we hold a Young Artists Competition for Middle and High School students. The winners get to play a solo with the orchestra. All of these kids are utterly phenomenal. This week’s lesson actually happened during one of these concerts.. and I thought it was so beautiful and touching, I wanted to share it here.
Symphony of God Woman’s Bible Study Lesson
The soloist walked to the center of the stage and took a bow amidst the welcoming applause. With a nod, she raised her violin and the conductor gave the downbeat. The performance of her lifetime had just begun. Her tone was achingly beautiful, the notes flew across the strings with a flourish, and she exuded the confidence of someone who had spend many hours practicing and rehearsing the music. She played this piece by heart.
She had internalized it completely.
And then it happened.
She made a mistake.
She forgot her part.
The performance of her lifetime was ruined.
The audience gasped. The musicians in the orchestra cringed.
Is that the end of the story though? Did the soloist freeze on stage with a deer in the headlights look? Did she run off stage crying?
I mean, there was absolutely nothing she could do to fix her mistake. Her mistake was unrecoverable and on her own, she would not be able to finish playing the music.
However, all hope was not lost.
The Conductor Intervenes
As soon as the soloist faltered, the conductor noticed immediately. Without causing a scene, he intervened. He quietly stopped conducting, nodded to the soloist to start up again, and brought the rest of the orchestra in on cue as he guided the soloist back to familiar territory.
The soloist finished strong and at the end of her solo, the conductor shook her hand like nothing had happened.. like no mistakes had been made. The audience applauded. There was a standing ovation. Flowers were given. Congratulations were free flowing.
So, how does this relate to our faith?
- Luke 15 talks about the parable of the Lost Sheep. In the parable, the shepherd goes to great lengths to seek and save one lost sheep.
Jesus, as our conductor, will go to great lengths to salvage our performance.. to advocate for our salvation. However, we still have to turn to Him. We can’t quit. We can’t give up. We have to look for His guidance and once again follow His lead. This is the only way we can finish playing God’s masterpiece. This is the only way we can recover from our sin.
- Jesus is our great advocate, our champion. He makes us holy and blameless before God. When we make mistakes… when we sin, Jesus intervenes to pay the penalty for our sin. Jesus pays the penalty and at the same time does something we can not do on our own– He creates a way for us to get back to the task at hand and finish the solo.
- Jesus remembers our sin no more. As far as the East is from the West… that is how far our sin is removed from us.
So, if Jesus doesn’t obsess on our sins and mistakes, why do we do it to ourselves? We have to learn how to let it go… this is the essence of grace, right? We messed up. Jesus paid the penalty for our mistake. Jesus alone can advocate for us before a holy and blameless God. Because Jesus is on our side, we are presented as holy and blameless.. acceptable before God. We are saved. God doesn’t even see our sin. Jesus does not remember it.
- Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to just quit, especially if the mistake you made is ‘big.’ How could I ever be acceptable? Surely this sin isn’t covered by grace, right? Maybe if I try hard enough, I can get back on track by myself and still finish playing the solo.
That is not how it works though.
I especially love how the Hebrews writer puts it:
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ~Hebrews 12:1-2 (NASB)
We are in an endurance race, and it can be brutal! Don’t stop running. If you mess up. If you sin. If you forgot your part.. don’t give up! Don’t let the weight of past sin entangle your future salvation.
Fix your eyes on Jesus! Look at that conductor, and heed his gentle instruction. He will get you back on track. And really, Jesus is not the only one hoping you finish strong.
The Great Cloud of Witnesses
The musicians… the orchestra… the body of Christ. These people are your spiritual family. They are playing in hopes that the sounds coming out of the orchestra are a sweet smelling aroma… that they are playing the music in such a way that it will be a fantastic embodiment of the creator. The orchestra as the body of Christ wants to play well… they want to be good ambassadors for Christ. So, naturally they will want you, the soloist, to succeed. As a soloist, there is no way you could finish the piece on your own. Even if you could though, why would you want to? One lone musician playing a solo might sound nice, but there is no depth, nothing profound… it is a mere shadow of its potential. Look to the conductor and let him guide you to the correct path. Then, enjoy the support of the rest of the orchestra.. the reset of the body.
The audience. Those who went before us. They have come to witness you, God’s masterpiece, playing His masterful message.
A great cloud of witnesses. When you make it to the end of the piece, they will cheer. They are rooting for you.
It is quite literally the Applause of Heaven.
Isn’t that encouraging?
So, keep playing.. on the wings of your fellow musicians, with the love and admiration of those who went before you, and with your focus on the only one who can lead you to the ultimate prize– your salvation.
Thanks for reading and I hope you will join me next week when we talk about music and the creator!